INDEX 2021: Why We Can’t Wait For The Next One

As the curtains closed on a successful, physical INDEX trade fair, we look back at what worked, and what was so amazing this year. 




Three days of continuous footfall, nonstop talks and design and industry discussions, and a palpable energy that was sorely missed last year, due to a worldwide hiatus on physical trade fairs. This was the vibe at INDEX 2021. It may have been more compact this time around, but there was more than enough dazzle and design to make up for the smaller size. In fact, it actually worked. Here is our summary and highlights of the event.


Both the entrances at INDEX this year featured design installations by two major regional design firms, Kristina Zanic Consultants and Brand Creative, and my what a first impression they created! Both firms partnered with equally mega fit-out companies, KZC with Bond Interiors and Brand Creative with Design Infinity, and the built structures are incredibly impressive.

‘The bottleneck’ by KZC referred to the time spent during COVID, a time to reflect and be introspective, and then how life changed after. And finally the celebration of coming back together and meeting face to face in a post-pandemic world.

“The gate geometry is inspired by the COVID cases curve – the parabolic shape is a strong structure shape, which we have seen a lot during pandemic time in our daily life when we kept on tracking the number of cases around the world and in our homes,” says Kristina Zanic, Founder and CEO. “We are taking the attendees and public through a short journey of life before and after COVID, from normal to the new normal. We have seen that disruption as an opportunity and we want to deliver that experience with our design. It’s the first physical INDEX event since the pandemic, and you will start your visit with a small-time capsule that ends with the springs of a new season, guaranteeing that you will appreciate every minute of your visit.”

Brand Creative’s ‘Off The Grid’ also focused on the current pandemic-induced existence. “The creative concept behind our installation reflects the inner workings of human thought processes over three periods of time,” says Carla Conte, Founder and Creative Director at Brand Creative. “The past (Pre-COVID) is depicted in the first area where a rigid grid and simplistic volumes of shape represent the daily grind of the past, barely making meaningful human connections, which essentially rendered us blind. The second area is our current COVID world. Blindfolds are replaced with masks and the rigid grid is distorted by the tension created by our new social bubbles and the loss of freedom. The final area celebrates a positive outlook on the future. The volume of shapes are more complex, representing emotional development. Blindfolds and masks disappear and a moment of enlightenment ensues. The possibility of living a life you can positively enjoy as an individual whilst re-connecting to others in a more meaningful way is exhilarating. When the bubbles pop, we are transformed as we celebrate being Off the Grid!”

The installation is meant to be thought-provoking and a point for further discussion. The sheer size and volumes of space that are created are meant to envelop visitors for a short moment in time prior to engagement with others.


We mentioned the back story and inspiration behind Cosentino’s installation at INDEX this year. However, the actual, physical representation of those beautiful drawings commanded much more respect. Kudos to the amazing efforts by the three students from American University of Sharjah, and their professor, Juan Roldan. Equal respect to Cosentino for driving this initiative of a circular economy. As Miriam Llano, Marketing Manager Middle East at Cosentino Group explains, “It’s all about the ‘RE’… REuse, REcycle, REcreate, Re, re, re”.


As Esra Lemmens, Chair of Design Talks at INDEX 2021 mentioned, it was the first time in a long time that the design community were able to step away from their webinar portals and meet face to face. This in itself brought about an electrifying energy and excitement to the multiple panel talks platforms, and it was one of the winning elements of the fair. Designers, architects, contractors, manufacturers, dealerships – the entire supply chain was cleverly represented within the Workspace and INDEX Design Talks panels, and even better was the fact that the walls were torn down (physically not metaphorically), which meant that passers by could hang about and listen for a bit or longer before moving on to the next attraction. This set up felt much more inclusive and certainly contributed to the success of these conversational platforms.

The hot topic of conversation, or rather the unavoidable topic of conversation, was of course, the pandemic and its effect on our  industry and the world. The thoughts, ideas, coping mechanisms and innovative outlooks that were highlighted, truly drove the point home that when great minds come together, we can overcome anything.

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